Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have begun developing a computerized early warning system that could be used diagnose children with autism, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Georgia Tech is part of a consortium of universities that won a five-year, $10 million National Science Foundation grant to develop digital tools that can be widely distributed and that require little training to operate.
The early warning system would include:
- "Smart" video cameras to assess facial reactions and eye movements in children;
- Timing devices to monitor a child's heart rate and electrical conductivity of the skin; and
- Data evaluation components that would produce a quantifiable result.
The system would operate in tandem with procedures developed through Emory University's autism center that act as a standardized process for diagnosing autism.
According to Gregory Abowd, one of the Georgia Tech team leaders, researchers are expected to launch a prototype system within the next few years. After five years, the team anticipates releasing a simple diagnostic tool that can be mass-produced for use in pediatricians' offices and daycare centers.
System Could Lead to Treatment Tools
According to some experts, the new system could lead to the development of autism treatment tools. For example, researchers could design computerized tools that would allow parents to perform tasks typically carried out only by clinicians (Tagami, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/20).